Monyake and his po­lit­i­cal cir­cus

Lesotho Times - - Scrutator -

Le­sotho’s politi­cians never cease to amaze. Mophato Monyake is hell-bent on pro­ceed­ing with of­fi­cially launch­ing a new po­lit­i­cal party on 29 Novem­ber 2014 at the Pitso Ground in Maseru.

Monyake is a for­mer All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) mem­ber, who won the Sta­dium Area Con­stituency on Cy­clone Tom’s party ticket in 2012 and was sub­se­quently ap­pointed to cab­i­net.

He was sub­se­quently fired early this year for among other rea­sons; in­com­pe­tence, his mis­han­dling of the Lehlo­honolo scott saga, his spend­thrift ways ( Monyake called his Min­istry to send him an ex­tra M15 000 while on a trip to Mada­gas­car).

I must, from the on­set, ac­knowl­edge ev­ery Mosotho’s right to form a po­lit­i­cal party. But I just can­not fathom any value that Monyake’s party is go­ing to add to our body politic. I thought we had had enough of the Ba­sotho Batho Demo­cratic Par­ties of this world.

We al­ready have a plethora of hus­band and wife po­lit­i­cal par­ties whose only con­tri­bu­tion is to cre­ate jobs for their so-called lead­ers and man­u­fac­ture havoc and con­fu­sion re­sult­ing in the kind of drama that our King­dom is cur­rently en­meshed in.

Take for in­stance the case of the great­est democ­racy in the world, the United States. De­spite com­mand­ing a pop­u­la­tion of about 316 mil­lion peo­ple, only two po­lit­i­cal par­ties –– the Demo­cratic Party and the Repub­li­can party –– un­der­pin its democ­racy.

The sit­u­a­tion is sim­i­lar in another bea­con of democ­racy, the United King­dom, where the Labour and the Tory par­ties, hold sway with some sprin­kling of ac­tion from those peren­nial slow­pokes, the Lib­eral Democrats and the emerg­ing UK In­de­pen­dence Party (UKIP).

The UK com­mands a size­able pop­u­la­tion of 64 mil­lion yet only two ma­jor par­ties dom­i­nate its demo­cratic sys­tem.

Why, there­fore, does a coun­try like Le­sotho, with a pop­u­la­tion of less than two mil­lion need to have nearly a dozen po­lit­i­cal par­ties rep­re­sented in its Par­lia­ment.

The an­swer is to be found partly in what for­mer South African Re­serve Bank gov­er­nor, Tito Mboweni, ar­gued in his opin­ion master­piece in the Busi­nessday news­pa­per of 25 Septem­ber 2014, un­der the head­line “There is a way to put paid to Le­sotho’s po­lit­i­cal trou­bles”. Though the Ba­sotho na­tion is not known for its read­ing habits, this ar­ti­cle is a must read for any lit­er­ate Mosotho. More about that later.

In the UK and USA, you will never hear that a min­is­ter has formed a po­lit­i­cal party sim­ply be­cause he has been fired from their cab­i­net posts. Yet in Le­sotho, this is almost a norm.

The re­sult is a plethora of po­lit­i­cal for­ma­tions not based on in­tel­li­gi­ble pol­icy po­si­tions but the de­sire to at­tain po­lit­i­cal power en­tirely for its own sake and to ac­cess state re­sources to en­rich the founders of th­ese one man, one con­cu­bine po­lit­i­cal “par­ties”.

There can be no doubt that if Monyake had not fallen vic­tim to Cy­clone Tom, he would still be liv­ing large as a cab­i­net min­is­ter with­out the slight­est whim­per of crit­i­cism of the same poli­cies of the ABC that he now so much de­spises. the prob­lem with po­lit­i­cal par­ties formed out of frus­tra­tion at be­ing fired or out of a de­sire to ex­act po­lit­i­cal re­venge is that they almost al­ways re­main still­born.

Apart from be­ing a com­pletely use­less en­deavor, Monyake’s po­lit­i­cal for­ma­tion, which he has named the Pro­gres­sive Democrats (PD), rep­re­sents ev­ery­thing wrong (or rather rot­ten) about our na­tional body politic. We have a ubiq­ui­tous sup­ply of inane politi­cians.

Monyake’s PD is a clas­sic ex­am­ple of form­ing a po­lit­i­cal party for its own sake. After read­ing an ar­ti­cle about his PD’S plans, I was left con­vinced that Monyake will not launch a po­lit­i­cal party but a cir­cus on 29 Novem­ber 2014.

It could well be his idea to cre­ate some­thing to en­ter­tain us amidst our cur­rent eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal vi­cis­si­tudes that have fos­tered doom and gloom.

But if he is se­ri­ous, Monyake, a trained en­gi­neer, should know bet­ter. I can­not un­der­stand how, in the first place, he could ever imag­ine that any­one would take his party sym­bol se­ri­ously.

I am not sure whether he has taken my ear­lier ad­vice and changed it or he will main­tain it when he launches his “po­lit­i­cal party”.

The sym­bol of a raised in­dex fin­ger is as mean­ing­less as it is plain fool­ish. It’s akin to rais­ing a mid­dle fin­ger at any­one who dares to take an in­ter­est in the PD.

In the African con­text, a party sym­bol is im­por­tant in­so­far as it must rep­re­sent any po­lit­i­cal party’s val­ues, prin­ci­ples and belief sys­tems. It al­ways needs care­ful thought. im­babwe’s op­po­si­tion Move­ment for Demo­cratic Change (MDC) for in­stance adopted a well praised open palm to sym­bol­ise open­ness and the party’s claim that it has noth­ing to hide.

Thomas Tha­bane’s ABC used the ris­ing sun to sym­bol­ise that a new dawn has ar­rived. What the hell had Monyake smoked when he thought of a raised in­dex fin­ger?

Along­side his poor sym­bol is his poor choice of col­ors for his party’s re­galia, dom­i­nated by blue and yel­low.

Black and white, or red and black, or blue and white –– any com­bi­na­tion of two loud colours can do.

But not blue and yel­low sir!

they do not add up. When I first saw Monyake’s pic­ture in the news­pa­per, I rea­soned that a new kind of Santa Clause had de­cided to visit us ear­lier than usual. In blue and yel­low, Monyake in­stantly be­came Le­sotho’ an­swer to Mr Bean.

ZA­long­side the un­ac­cept­able party sym­bol and colours are the lu­natic poli­cies en­vis­aged by Monyake as well as his un­founded de­ter­mi­na­tion to form the next gov­ern­ment.

Un­less he was mis­quoted, Monyake was quoted in Pub­lic Eye declar­ing that he is eye­ing 10 seats in the elec­tions slated for end of Fe­bru­ary 2015 after the col­lapse of the Tom and Jerry coali­tion gov­ern­ment.

once in power, Monyake said his main pol­icy plank will be the de­vo­lu­tion of power to Le­sotho’s 10 dis­tricts.

Monyake said no coun­try had truly pro­gressed with­out in­tro­duc­ing the con­cept of dis­trict (or de­volved) gov­ern­ments cit­ing the USA and South Africa.

“In Amer­ica, the states are self-gov­erned while in in South Africa, they have provin­cial gov­ern­ments elected into place…,” Monyake was quoted as say­ing.

In another in­ter­view with Lena car­ried in the Le­sotho Times, Monyake was quoted as say­ing de­vo­lu­tion of power was nec­es­sary be­cause Ba­sotho in ru­ral places like Qacha’s Nek, Mokholtong and thaba tseka, among oth­ers, did not care about elec­tric­ity and good roads but are in­stead more con­cerned with their live­stock.

Iwould be keen to know such back­ward Ba­sotho who don’t care about hav­ing elec­tric­ity and clean wa­ter into their homes and hav­ing good roads into their com­mu­ni­ties but only rear­ing live­stock.

Surely Monyake must have been mis­quoted or he sim­ply does not take the very peo­ple he ex­pects to pro­pel him to power se­ri­ously.

Even the most cel­e­brated car­toon fig­ure, Goofy knows that you can­not form a gov­ern­ment in Le­sotho with the 10 seats Monyake en­vis­ages to win.

But it is Monyake’s pol­icy of de­volv­ing power to the dis­tricts which con­firms him as a be­ing in Cloud Cuckoo Land and bet­ter off leav­ing pol­i­tics and set­ting up an en­gi­neer­ing work­shop in Khu­bet­soana.

To try and im­ple­ment Amer­ica’s de­vo­lu­tion model into Le­sotho is a very com­i­cal, if not ab­so­lutely stupid, idea that can only emerge out of Monyake’s very in­fer­tile and ster­ile po­lit­i­cal imag­i­na­tion.

The 51 states that make up the United States of Amer­ica are in­di­vid­u­ally very pro­duc­tive eco­nomic and in­dus­trial hubs com­mand­ing huge pop­u­la­tions and de­serv­ing to run their own af­fairs.

the big­gest states like Cal­i­for­nia, New York, Texas and Florida all com­mand pop­u­la­tions up­wards of 19 mil­lion. They, in fact, can be vi­able in­di­vid­ual states if they were sep­a­rated from the USA.

the smaller states like Wy­oming, Ver­mont, Dis­trict of Columbia, North Dakota, Alaska, Delaware each com­mand economies far big­ger than Le­sotho’s and pop­u­la­tions com­pa­ra­ble to our King­dom’s.

The same ap­plies to South Africa where power is di­vided into the na­tional, provin­cial and lo­cal spheres with the coun­try’s nine prov­inces be­ing in­dus­trial and com­mer­cial hubs de­serv­ing their own provin­cial leg­is­la­tures and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties. But even South Africa is re­al­is­ing the fu­til­ity of its ex­pan­sive de­cen­tral­i­sa­tion of power which has led to it com­mand­ing one of the big­gest bu­reau­cra­cies in the world. Some South Africans have hence pro­posed elim­i­nat­ing the provin­cial layer of gov­ern­ment to re­main with the na­tional sphere and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties.

Let us, for once, imag­ine that if Monyake comes to power, he will im­ple­ment his de­vo­lu­tion process with the evan­gel­i­cal zeal he has promised. The few thou­sand peo­ple in Qacha will end up with their self-gov­ern­ing struc­tures and their own dis­trict par­lia­ment, premier or gov­er­nor, and their own bu­reau­cracy to run their af­fairs.

I would cer­tainly throw my name in the hat to be con­sid­ered for ap­point­ment as gov­er­nor of Mokhot­long un­der a PD gov­ern­ment. It surely must be fun rul­ing a few hun­dred peo­ple who don’t care about elec­tric­ity and roads but only their goats, sheep and hens.

What a pity there­fore that even if it does well, the best Monyake’s PD can do is to get one pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion seat to be oc­cu­pied by Monyake him­self or his con­cu­bine, if he opts to de­clare him­self a “self­less leader who puts the peo­ple first”.

Ihave of­ten won­dered why Ba­sotho are fond of form­ing po­lit­i­cal par­ties. Mboweni partly an­swered the ques­tion. In his ar­ti­cle, he wrote: “In this coun­try, which is poor and with a small econ­omy, con­trol of the gov­ern­ment is key to the most prim­i­tive forms of wealth ac­cu­mu­la­tion.

“Ac­cess to a min­istry means the abil­ity to loot the state’s re­sources in or­der to en­rich one­self. It is as crude as all that.

“Once some­one be­comes a min­is­ter, their so­cial sta­tus changes, their con­trol over ten­ders and other state re­sources is en­hanced, and ‘a looter con­tinua!’.

“So the very thought of los­ing state power drives even the best men and women to go ab­so­lutely berserk.

“That is the fun­da­men­tal ba­sis upon which we should un­der­stand the con­tin­u­ing in­sta­bil­ity in Le­sotho.

“Is Le­sotho dif­fer­ent from many other African coun­tries? Maybe not, but the key dif­fer­ence is in the size of the coun­try’s econ­omy, limited re­sources and very few pri­vate-sec­tor op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“It is not like Botswana or Namibia, although it is very much like Swazi­land.”

I whole heart­edly agree with Mboweni. Mboweni was a stu­dent at the NUL in the 1980s. that, in it­self, is am­ple tes­ti­mony of the good work NUL did in its hey­day. his knowl­edge and back­ground of Le­sotho is very well grounded.

His ar­gu­ments help un­der­stand why ev­ery other fired min­is­ter would rush to form a po­lit­i­cal party in­stead of tak­ing a break from pol­i­tics to do other things. Le­sotho badly needs en­trepreneurs not politi­cians.

hav­ing many po­lit­i­cal par­ties does not equate to democ­racy. It in fact weak­ens in­stead of strength­en­ing democ­racy.

Le­sotho needs one good vi­sion­ary leader to de­vice ap­pro­pri­ate poli­cies to har­ness its eco­nomic po­ten­tial in the few sec­tors that it can achieve vi­a­bil­ity. It does not need bu­reau­cratic de­cen­tralised dis­trict gov­ern­ments.

Le­sotho cer­tainly does not need nor de­serve the PD.


PD leader Mophato Monyake wear­ing his party’s colours and (cen­tre) the party sym­bol.

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